Brynn Lundy/The Lion's Roar
Despite all obstacles presented by COVID-19, the Vonnie Borden Theatre is alive and well for its 2020-2021 season.
University students and faculty members have been working to create a safe environment that can uphold live theatre performances. With the help of face shields and social distancing, the theatre is set to host its first production in November.
Chad Winters, instructor of acting and directing, described how creativity will make their season possible.
“Doing a production at this time certainly has a lot of challenges,” shared Winters. “We have social distance in rehearsals and performances. The actors will be able to wear face screens during live performances. Acting is very personal, so you have to get creative on how you rehearse to bring the play to life.”
Student actresses have been rehearsing for the theatre’s upcoming production of “The Wolves,” a coming-of-age soccer team story that features an all-female cast. The play is set to run Nov. 10-14.
Acting and directing instructor Anne-Liese Fox is the director for “The Wolves.” After contemplating with other faculty members, she shared that a live and distanced audience would be possible.
“All of us on the faculty talked and thought about this long and hard,” said Fox. “In the Vonnie Borden, right now, you can have about 70 people in that theatre. Now, we’re going into phase three, so maybe that’s our maximum number for audiences, so that our audiences will be safe.”
In “The Wolves,” the soccer players are referred to by their numbers. Carsyn Avegno, a sophomore biology major, auditioned for the role of ‘#7.’
“The audition process was very close to every other audition I’ve been to,” shared Avegno. “The only difference was we were required to wear our masks until we got on stage, and for group scenes during callback, we were required to stand eight feet apart to be able to take our mask off.”
Fox explained that she is building a world where theatre can still coincide with the circumstances of COVID-19.
“I’m just incorporating the world of COVID,” said Fox. “It’s getting normalized, and hopefully this gets resolved before it becomes too normalized, but I’m just building a world where this pandemic is still a thing, but it’s not a major subject area of the script.”
Winters believes it’s important to provide these opportunities for students, even if the experience is different.
“I think it is important that we attempt to keep theatre alive so we work on getting life back to normal,” expressed Winters. “Yes, things are different, but it is nice to be out and not stuck at home. Doing shows provides more opportunities for the students to be involved in at Southeastern.”
As a student actress, Avegno shared similar sentiments.
“It’s definitely difficult to perform under the circumstances due to COVID-19,” said Avegno. “I think social distancing is one of the hardest to deal with, but I believe we need theatre in a time like this. Theatre gives people hope. I’m going through such a hard time with everything around us. It’s a small glimmer of hope.”